I would like to update hon. Members on the main item of business undertaken by my Department since the House rose for conference recess.
When people claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and/or Universal Credit (UC) due to a health condition or disability they are required to take part in Work Capability Assessments (WCA) on an ongoing basis to confirm their eligibility. This includes people with the most severe health conditions or disabilities, even though we already know from their initial WCA, and from healthcare professionals, that, short of medical advances, their condition is unlikely to improve.
On 1 October, I announced that that we will stop reassessing people with the most severe health conditions and disabilities. This change will apply to people who have already been placed in the ESA Support Group or UC Limited Capability for Work and Work Related Activity categories following a WCA and who have the most severe health conditions and disabilities (defined as claimants with severe, lifelong, often progressive and incurable conditions, with minimally fluctuating care needs, who are unlikely to ever be able to move closer to the labour market and into work). The IT changes needed are expected to be completed by the end of 2017. In the meantime, we will be working to ensure these people are not reassessed unnecessarily.
Over the coming months we will work with key stakeholders, including disabled people, disability charities, our health assessment provider, the Centre for Health and Disability Assessments, medical professionals and others to develop a set of criteria, set out in guidance, to switch off reassessments for those that are eligible.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords